Saturday, October 12, 2013

Antonin Scalia: Innocuous 'Devil' Babble- Or Is The Man An Idiot?

Headshot of Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
Antonin Scalia: Now seeing the Devil everywhere and wondering why no one else does. Maybe it's time for him to pack it in.

Recall back in 2011 when Rick Santorum had the "Devil" on the brain?  Well now it's Antonin Scalia, who as a Supreme Court Justice ought to embody the pinnacle of rationalism but appears to have gone loopy with his recent pronouncements on the existence of the Devil. In his own words, from an October 6 remark:

"In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He's making pigs run off cliffs, he's possessing people and what not. And that doesn't happen much anymore. He used to be all over the New Testament...What happened to him? He got wilier!"

Bill Maher's take on this idiocy on his REAL TIME show last night was exactly correct:

"I don't care why someone acts like a fool, only that when they do we keep them away from decision making. It would be one thing if Mr. Scalia sold pizza for a living. But this is a man we go to to interpret our laws. It's like smelling a gas leak and calling an exorcist.  Antonin Scalia helped put George Bush in the White House and he believes the Devil went down to Georgia. He gets to decide when life begins and he thinks evil is a person."

Maher went on to aptly point out the problem in believing in the Devil, is that you then see the world divided into two camps, one of 'good', the other of 'evil' and will then be inclined to see the "Evil One" on the side of 'them' (the others, who don't share your views). It then is merely one step more to see compromising with your  opponents as compromising with evil. Then, Voila! You have the Tea Party.

Let's return to Scalia. He refers to the "Devil" but which one is it? Historically in ancient scriptures,  numerous named prime entities have assumed that role, e.g. Gaap (left) and Focalor, in the graphic. They were part of the Satanic hierarchy drawn up in the Middle Ages.

Or possibly, Scalia means the "chief Devil" - but even he has a name, 'Lucifer'  - and a recent depiction is shown. Note that we can be reasonably certain this is THE Boss Devil because of the serious look on his visage- very much resembling how we'd expect Dick Cheney to appear in a fire and brimstone environment.

 One problem is that no one is quite sure if he truly controls all the demonic hordes (there is disagreement on whether he has influence on Chinese or Indian entities).  After all, the Chinese and Hindus have their own castes of Devil-Demons with their own chronology and names.

Scalia wonders what happened to this Devil, but as Maher pointed out, it could be he merely became redundant after primitive humans grew out of their intellectual infancy and science replaced superstition. So we now know, for example, that the bubonic plague isn't a result of the Devil,  e.g. casting a spell on followers, but because rats infected with fleas carrying the plague bacteria, pass them on to humans - who get the disease after being bitten. Yersinias pestis then multiplies in the blood stream  - no Devil needed.

Never mind, some minds remain in the primitive infant state and appear to need "the Devil" to explain occurrences in the real world. But, like Maher, I prefer these people remain outside those positions wherein their decisions could affect millions.

In any case, any grown man who subscribes in this century to the notion that entities such as those shown here are real, and "wily" - tricking us all to disbelieve them- must be a congenital idiot. Sorry, but that's the way it is. NO serious person of any intellectual heft or insight can possibly believe in actual demons, or a Devil. And further, any decision such an infantile twit delivers, must be called into question.

Still, we can (possibly) help Scalia to comprehend why the Devil is no longer  evident in the world or discussed, especially as a reality by serious people. First clue, it isn't because he's "wily". As Lauran Paine has noted (‘The Hierarchy of Hell’, Barnes & Noble, 1972, p. 140), the erosion of Church power almost exactly paralleled the demise of the long –enduring “orders and hierarchies” of Hell. In other words, as a supernatural agent or cause, the Devil isn't needed to account for events in the real world - including terrorist attacks, wars, or what have you. The "evil" exists instead within the brain, and is endemic in an evolving world.

The brain, the cosmos and world are still in a process of evolution, and that de facto incomplete process allows for what we call evil and hence human  misjudgments and mistakes. The brain itself is saddled with the leftovers of its reptilian- primitive hominid past and this division continues to govern its dynamics.  It was the philosopher N.M Wildiers who first observed:

Whatever is yet to be completed is of necessity imperfect, defective,  unfinished. Evil is thus structurally part and parcel of a world in evolution. An evolving world and a perfect world – these are mutually contradictory ideas.

In other words, evil is inevitable in an imperfect  and incomplete world governed by evolution.  If we know and have data to support we inhabit an evolving world, as well as universe then it is irrational to expect it not to display evil.  No personalization of evil or "Devil" is required.

Will this change Scalia's mind? Doubtful, because in his Manichean view of the world it's less useful to adopt an objective and rational explanation for evil than one which divides humans into "evil ones" and "good guys."

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